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The Talbott Theater has housed a variety of entertainment venues at 2143 N. Talbott Street since the mid-1920s. The building was designed by architect George V. Bedell and opened as a 1,042-seat silent movie theater. It replaced a 2 ½-story frame house on the site and was crowded between two houses on a small lot—something that would not be allowed with today’s zoning laws. According to cinematreasures.org, Talbott Theater was renamed the Coronet Theater in 1956 and the Encore Theater in 1962. In the late 1960s the theater became the Black Curtain Dinner Theater. (Indiana Historical Society, Bass Photo Company #99578-F, 1926)

The Black Curtain Dinner Theatre was the first professional dinner theater in Indianapolis. Owners Randy and Karen Galvin, ran the business throughout the 1970s. It featured live performances and singers. One unique and often-remembered performer was artist John William Higar (later known as Billyjohn Rainbow) who painted upside-down landscapes and portraits on stage and flipped the canvas to reveal the image at the end of the evening. (Ad courtesy of Evan Finch)

Ye Olde Talbott Village was the brainchild of Randy Galvin, owner of the Black Curtain Dinner Theatre. This bohemian village included shops such as the Glory Hole, the Museum of Galactic Rim Time Travel Institute, Bill Cronin Florist, Velvick Studio, Talbott Inn Pizza, Ron Wilson’s Leather Shop, Bob Hall’s Original Stoneware Ceramics, the Captain’s Den Objects de Art, and Dr. Kwak’s Medicine Show. The Hummingbird Café later moved into the village. (Back page of the Galley Lobster Theatre menu with map of Ye Olde Talbott Village, ca. 1972, courtesy of the Indiana Album, Heritage Photo & Research Services)

View looking north on Talbott Street at the old Talbott Village area. (Photograph by Joan Hostetler, 11 April 2012)

Talbott N 2145 Talbott Street 11 Apr 2011

Talbott Street, 11 April 2014 (Courtesy of The Indiana Album: Photo by Joan Hostetler)

Since the early 1980s, the old Talbott Theater has been in use under various names as a gay bar and nightclub. Today Talbott Street is a diverse club with a Studio 54 style dance floor and some of the best drag shows in town.

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14 responses to “Indianapolis Then and Now: Talbott Theatre 2143 N. Talbott Street”

  1. Jim says:

    So sad that so many of this building’s great details have been covered up.

  2. basil berchekas jr says:

    Indianapolis should promote truly urbane sectors like this neighborhood to not only promote economic development but to promote housing rehabilitation as well. This area, Irvington, Broad Ripple, University Heights, Butler Tarkington, Mapleton Fall Creek, and similar neighborhoods could use assistance in this regard. I agree with Jim about the details being covered up too…

  3. Sonnie Nolting Owens says:

    I used to live on Talbott Sreet back in 1950 and 1951. I loved it and it was even different then. We rented a house on the corner of 18th street if I remember. It had been a large home at one time but ours had a reception hall, living room with beautiful old fireplace 1 bedroom, kitchen and bath and basement. We had a very small screened back porch. My brother had a paper route in the neighborhood and I remember on 16th st this old apartment bldg that we delivered to. I was just wondering if there is any old reunions for former residents of Talbott. My brother is still in Indy but I’ve been gone from there for years. It was a gutsy place even back then!!!

  4. Joan Hostetler says:

    Thanks for sharing, Sonnie. I don’t know of any reunions for specific Indianapolis streets, but I’ve thought that would an interesting idea if neighborhoods would invite former residents to visit. In Cottage Home Neighborhood we encouraged old neighbors to come to our block party to share photos and stories. One lady in her 90s remembered cows pastured on Pogue’s Run.

  5. William R. Talbott says:

    Hi folks! As you can see by my name, I am very interested in how Talbott street got the name. A friend was attending a business meeting and, going to lunch, found Talbott street (sent me a photo of the street sign). At any rate, she also sent me to your web. Could you direct me to the best source of info on how Talbott street got its name? Thanks in advance for your time and efforts.

  6. Tiffany Benedict Berkson says:

    Hi Mr. Talbott, I’d love to connect with you if you are related to this family of Talbotts. Check out this article: http://historicindianapolis.com/talbott-avenue-not-street/
    If you’ve done any genealogy, I’m guessing you’d know if you plug into this tree. Thanks for visiting!

  7. Kris Miller says:

    Hello everyone, my cousin was a singer/actress at the Black Curtain back in the 60’s/70’s (Linda Dickerson). She became a nurse and is currently living in Scottsdale, AZ. I would love to find some photos or films of her in action!

  8. joe a runyon says:

    I remember her even though I was only 10 years old

  9. Jill steinhauer says:

    What happened to Randy Galvin? He was lifeguard at our pool when I was in Jr High. We all thought he was so cute!!

  10. Bobbie Hudson Penick says:

    We rented from Randy and had a biz called first The Scarlet Pentagram then changed to The Pentagram of Light. We first opened in a half double a door or two from The Hummingbird Cafe and was an Occult Book Store. We also sold local artists works from John Higar, John Bigalow, Ron Wilson and others on consignment.
    We rented a large half-double at the t of 21 & Talbott where we moved out biz The Pentagram of Light into the main floor of our residence.
    Before the musical group Coven went west they lived just a few doors down from us but that was early days when we just rented a small apartment across from our later one. Being an old hippie my memory is somewhat foggy….as the old saying goes, ” If you can remember the ’60s, then you weren’t there.”..LOL!
    There was also a shop around where the flower shop was located Called The Diversity Shop.
    We were Missy & Tom Thompson.
    Fun fact: John Bigalow lived in our basement when we lived at the 21st & Talbott Ave.

  11. Tiffany Benedict Browne says:

    What a fun bit of color to add to the story, thank you. I know there is a lot of interest in that part of Talbott, and I personally dream of the day the NE corner of 21st (former bowling alley, I think) is reopened into something neighborhood serving. No movement in the 15.5 years I’ve been here…

  12. Kris Miller says:

    Joan, Do you know how I can get videos of the Indianapolis dance show called RC Cola Rhythm Carnival Dance Show?
    It was on WISH TV and hosted by Dick Summer. My cousin was just 15 years old (1962) when she was dancing on that show.
    She is 71 now.

  13. Anonymous says:

    4.5

  14. Chris Congdon says:

    Just to add to this article, the nightclub shuttered it’s doors in 2016 and the building has been vacant since. Recently a local real estate developer has purchased it. He plans to renovate the building. One of the important things he plans to do is strip all the paint off the brick and try to restore the outside of the building. He is even looking at how to put a marquee back on.

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